AMES, Iowa — Cool fall weather puts many people in the mood for apple cider — and potentially at risk for E. coli, says Sam Beattie, an Iowa State University Extension food safety specialist.
“Unfortunately, new cider operations may not know of the risk of E. coli and food borne illness from raw apple cider,” Beattie said. “They may be handling their apples incorrectly and putting consumers at risk.”
Federal guidelines suggest a warning label on raw apple cider— cider that is not heat processed, Beattie said. “This type of cider may not be sold into retail commerce and may only be sold on the farm.”
Raw apple cider should not be served to at-risk populations, which include children younger than 9 years old, the food safety specialist stressed.
The following guidelines provide reasonable assurance of E. coli-free cider products.
• Apple cider should be made from whole, sound apples that have not been dropped or found on the ground.
• Cider presses and all equipment should be clean and sanitary before being used.
• All storage bottles should be clean and sanitary.
• Cider should be kept refrigerated at 40 F or cooler.
• Apple cider processors who heat treat must have an approved Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan in place.
“These measures greatly reduce the risk of transmitting illness from E. coli and other bacterial pathogens. Pasteurization, however, would reduce the risk to nearly zero,” Beattie said.
“Once apples — or any vegetables, for that matter — are contaminated, it is not possible to decontaminate them,” he added.
Laura Sternweis, Extension Communications and External Relations, (515) 294-0775,